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The WWE NXT Report: 06/17/15 – Samoa Joe vs. Kevin Owens, Mixed Tag Action, Finn Balor package, plus more!

Opening Pic of

In Memory

of Dusty Rhodes

1945-2015

Video Package of Dusty Rhodes with highlights of his career. With his promos blended in and music playing. Dusty Rhodes will leave a legacy behind for everyone to remember. “Get a dream, hold onto it and shoot for the sky. I have been to the mountain top and it will take one hell of a man to knock me off!! So this hear the American Dream, happy trails to you, until we meet again..”

NXT Opening video package.

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Wentz’s Blog – Hard Times for Wrestling Fans: Remembering Dusty Rhodes

Ever have that moment where you try to put something into words, and you just can’t?  That was me yesterday, trying to wrap my brain around the passing of WWE Hall of Famer and wrestling legend Dusty Rhodes.  I attempted to record an Around the Ring segment last night to cover Rhodes’ passing, but could not find the words.  Hopefully after 24 hours, some printed words will do justice.

Rhodes was the self-proclaimed “American Dream” by the time I was exposed to him in NWA and Jim Crockett Promotions during the mid 1980’s.  He portrayed himself as the son of a plumber from Austin, TX.  It was his charisma and “working man” mentality that drew me in.  His legacy always will be a working class, blue collar hero that changed the professional wrestling game.  Because I came from a blue-collar family, his common man character connected with me immediately.  Rhodes quickly became a childhood favorite, even more so than Hulk Hogan.

His promos were memorable.  “Hard Times” was posted with the news yesterday as a tribute to Rhodes, and in particular it’s a promo that people still reference today.  Hard Times though was just one of so many promos that he cut that were memorable. “I’ve wined and dined with kings and queens, and slept in alleys and ate pork and beans” is another line that Rhodes used that gets a lot of air play.  Rhodes carried himself with an unquestioned passion and charisma that rivaled boxer Muhammad Ali.  Dare I say he was pro wrestling’s Ali.

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dusty-rhodes

WWE Hall of Famer Dusty Rhodes Dead at Age 69

Dusty Rhodes (real name Virgil Runnels), a WWE Hall of Famer and multiple time World Heavyweight Champion, has passed away according to an announcement on WWE.com.

“The American Dream” became a hero to fans with his work ethic and passionate promos.  His “Hard Times” promo from his days in the NWA and Jim Crockett Promotions still is referenced today.  Rhodes was extremely charismatic and built a legend both in the ring and as a booker.

Triple H took to Twitter to address Rhodes’ passing with a simple tweet:

There is no listing of the cause of death at this time.  Rhodes is the father to two current WWE talents – Goldust (a.k.a. Dustin Runnels) and Stardust (a.k.a. Cody Runnels).

Our sincere condolences to the family, friends and fans of Dusty Rhodes in this time of loss.  The “Hard Times” promo is below in tribute.

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WWE Monday Night Raw Live Coverage for 2/23/2015 – Fallout from Fast Lane, Brock Lesnar Addresses Roman Reigns, John Cena Addresses His Loss to Rusev, Randy Orton Chases Seth Rollins, and More

Tonight WWE rolls on along the Road to Wrestlemania now that Fast Lane is in the rear view mirror.  We saw Randy Orton return last night, and he has his sights set on Seth Rollins.  Will Orton get his hands on the future of WWE, or will he continue to slip away?  John Cena passed out after Rusev landed a cheap low blow to save his US Championship.  You know that Lana and Rusev will gloat – but will Cena respond, and how?  The biggest news though was that Roman Reigns defeated Daniel Bryan to secure his spot at Wrestlemania 31 against Brock Lesnar.  Lesnar is slated to be in the building – so what will go down between these two men?

Show Open, Live from the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, TN

Standard WWE product opener rolls, and then we get the Raw credits and in-arena pyro.  Cole tells us we are 34 days out from Wrestlemania, and the road to Santa Clara rolls through Nashville.

Randy Orton’s music hits and he gets a pop.  Cole reminds us that a Curb Stomp nearly ended Orton’s career 4 months ago.  They roll still shots of Orton getting his shots on various Authority members last night at Fast Lane, with Rollins fleeing from the arena.

Orton waits out a “Randy” chant and some cheers.  He says he’s not out there to talk their ears off with a 20 minute promo, but there’s something he needs to get off his chest.  He says he’s been out for the past four months, and it’s because of the Authority and more specifically Seth Rollins.  He feeds it to a video clip to remind us of those events.

In the last four months, Orton says he has relived it over and again.  He says he’s here to tell the Authority that he’s just getting started.  He says Seth Rollins got away last night, but he calls it a stay of execution.  He says there’s no more running or hiding, in fact there’s no more waiting.  “Seth Rollins, get your ass out here right now!”

“King of Kings” hits, and here comes Triple H, Stephanie, Big Show, and Kane.  Booker says it doesn’t look like Seth Rollins.  JBL says that Orton doesn’t run things, but the Authority does.   Stephanie has the mic and holds back Kane and Big Show.  She welcomes Orton back, and says he made a hell of a return both last night and tonight.  Even though it was at the expense of the Authority, that’s the Randy Orton they know and love.  She says that’s the Orton that had 16,000 people chanting his name.  She says it’s the Orton she wants as the face of WWE.

Orton tells her to get off of it and he’s not a part of the Authority.  He says he won’t forgive Seth Rollins and the only thing he plans to do to Seth Rollins is bash his brains in.  Stephanie pleads to him and says that there’s no reason the face and the future of WWE can’t coexist.   She appeals to him to rejoin the Authority.

“Steph, that’s tempting, but I’d rather kick some ass than kiss some ass.”  Big Show addresses him and says he knows Orton is frustrated and angry.  He says he has had to put a lot of his own anger and frustration aside.  Joining the Authority was the best decision he made.  “You sold out” chants start.  Show says that Orton coming back to the Authority is the best decision he can male.

Orton says “and by that you mean ‘selling out.'”  Stephanie pleads again and says that what Orton has done is not for the fans but for his own goals.  She recounts some of the most vile and brutal acts he has committed have come at the expense of her father, husband, brother, and even her.  She says she can’t show the footage but it’s worse than what Rollins did to him.

Steph asks him to listen, and have a “conference” over it.  She asks if he’ll listen, and the fans chant “no” and Orton crosses his arms.  Orton doesn’t respond, but Stephanie, Big Show and Kane go to leave.  Triple H stares at him for a few moments, then he leaves as well.  As they walk up the ramp, Orton tells them to wait.  He says he will meet them backstage.  “Business meeting, fine.”  Stephanie smiles.  Orton has a confident smirk on his face.

Orton didn’t deliver a 20 minute monologue, and the segment still went on 15 minutes.  The fans were hot for Orton early on, and Show actually got some heat when he started talking – more than he’s had in a while.  There’s a clear angle going on with this “meeting” thing, just looking at Orton’s face especially.

Cole says we will find out what is next for John Cena, saying that the record book will show that he suffered a submission loss last night to Rusev.  They also hype that Roman Reigns will face Brock Lesnar, and we will hear from Reigns later.

Bad News Barrett gets his entrance.  Cole points out that Barrett doesn’t have his title, and he’s not happy that Dean Ambrose has stolen it.  He will face Dolph Ziggler, next.

Back live, they run through still shots to recap the Intercontinental Championship match from last night.  R-Truth is at the announce table, and says that he’s there to scout Barrett for a possible future title shot.  Barrett is mid-promo, saying that his belt was stolen by the “common criminal” Ambrose and he wants it back.

Match #1 – Bad News Barrett vs. Dolph Ziggler:

Barrett controls the early offense, roughing up Ziggler with knees to the back, then stretching him out.  Ziggler gets to his feet but Barrett rips him back down by his hair.  Barrett throws Ziggler across the ring with a violent whip and covers for two.

Barrett sets up a big boot by the ropes, but Ziggler ducks out of the way so Barrett gets hung up.  Ziggler follows with a drop kick that sends Barrett to the floor as we go to break.

Back live, Ziggler lands ten punches in the corner.  Barrett threw Ziggler into Truth during the break.  After running the ropes, Barrett loads Ziggler for Wasteland.  Ziggler counters to a DDT.   Barrett comes back with a mule kick then loads a powerbomb.  His momentum throws him off balance but he still hits it for two.

Barrett calls for the Bull Hammer as Ziggler gets to his feet.  Ziggler counters with a roll up, then misses the Fameasser.  Barrett hits Winds of Change for two as the commentary team says everyone’s mad at Barrett.  Barrett stomps away on Ziggler in the corner.

Ziggler rolls up Barrett for a two again.  Barrett charges, but Ziggler ducks out of the way so Barrett crashes to the corner.  In the end, Ziggler hits the Zig Zag and grabs the win.

Afterward, Dean Ambrose’s music hits.  He walks out, title belt in hand.  He walks around the ring then gets in.  He confronts Barrett with the belt.  Barrett yells that it’s his belt.  Ambrose turns to Ziggler and they eye each other up.  Ambrose bumps his way past Ziggler and leaves with the belt.

Barrett was holding his neck after he botched the powerbomb – wonder if something happened to make him lose his balance.  Anyhow, looks like we’re heading to a fatal four-way for the IC title match at Wrestlemania, possibly. Truth, Ambrose, and Ziggler all have claims to Barrett’s title.  It could be a triple threat too, if they exclude Truth – the man Ambrose basically ignored in that sequence.

Cole talks about the exchange between Triple H and Sting last night at Fast Lane.  He says we will hear more about that, next.

Back live, Cole thanks us for the success of WWE Network.  They move on to talk about Sting vs. Triple H from last night.    They narrate over various still pictures of the interaction between the two of them.  They hype that Sting vs. Triple H is official for Wrestlemania in 34 days.

Backstage, it’s the business meeting with Randy Orton, Kane, Big Show, Seth Rollins, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H.  Triple H stands there, sulking as Stephanie thanks them for coming.  Rollins speaks up to Hunter on his objection to Orton re-joining them, but Stephanie cuts him off.  She asks if he has a problem with her decision because she’s a woman.  Kane speaks up as well, saying that he doesn’t think this is the right choice and Orton should be dealt with  more harshly.

Stephanie says that Kane needs to think beyond himself and think of the bigger picture.  Rollins asks how they could trust Orton.  Stephanie continues to defend her idea, and asks Orton if they can move forward.  She guarantees that they will welcome Orton back with open arms.  Orton extends his hand and he and Rollins shake and stare an intent stare.   Stephanie says they will show dominance by having Orton and Rollins face Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan.

This isn’t sticking, I don’t think.  I think they’re setting up a way for Orton to get his hands on Rollins with this.  Hunter is showing how he is preoccupied with Sting.  He hasn’t said a word tonight, and his mind was clearly elsewhere than in that segment.  I didn’t care for Stephanie cutting Rollins’ balls off in that segment like that though.

We get a new Sheamus vignette.  He’ll be back soon – not sure when though.

In the ring, it’s the return of the Prime Time Players.  Biggest news all week!  Nashville didn’t think so though – not much reaction.

Match #2 – Prime Time Players vs. The Ascension

In a pop-up video, the Ascension complains about the Bushwhackers getting a Hall of Fame induction.  They say that the Bushwhackers wouldn’t last four seconds with them.  Early on, the Ascension dominates Darren Young, and they pretty much dominate the match.  In the end, Young rolls up Viktor to get the win.

Afterward, the Ascension flips out, taking out Titus O’Neil then hitting Young with the Fall of Man.

I could not see that coming – the Prime Time Players hanging loss #1 on the Ascension?  Wow.

Cole hypes that Roman Reigns is up next to address his match with Brock Lesnar.

This is the big one.  How will Nashville treat him?

In-Ring Segment:

Roman Reigns’ music hits, and he makes his way through the fans to the ring.  The reaction’s pretty mixed from what I can tell.  Once in the ring, Reigns says he has had a hell of a month.  He recounts winning the Royal Rumble.  He says that apparently going through 29 other superstars wasn’t enough, so he had a number one contender’s match last night.  He said he did what he said what he would, and now he can say he’s going to Wrestlemania.

Reigns says he could hear the fans all month.  “I know a lot of you were rooting for the other guy.”  He looked at the camera and says “but to all my doubters…”  Daniel Bryan’s music interrupts.  Bryan stares at Reigns.

Bryan says he didn’t mean to interrupt, but yes, he did.  He mentions the doubters, and says he watched Reigns win the Rumble.  The male demo boos.  Reigns laughs, and Bryan continues.  He says he knew Reigns deserved the opportunity but he felt like all these people.  “I booed, and booed and booed on the inside.”

He says he knows people see promise and potential in Reigns.  Bryan says if Reigns wants to talk about the doubters, the biggest one is Bryan.  He says that when they talk about potential, they’re actually talking about size, strength, and athletic ability.  Bryan says he has seen others who don’t have the heart he does.  “That’s what the Authority doesn’t see, and that’s what all the people here tonight see.  That’s why they like Daniel Bryan, and they don’t like you.”  Mix of cheers, chants, and boos for that.

“And that’s why I didn’t like you.  Last night, I had an opportunity, if I beat you, I go on to Wrestlemania to win back the WWE World Heavyweight Championship that I never lost.”  He says he gave everything he had and dug down as deep as he could “and I still didn’t do it.”  Bryan says he doesn’t regret a thing because he gave everything he had.

Bryan says “It wasn’t me, you proved to me last night that you had more heart than I ever thought you did.  I don’t care how many people are booing you here tonight.  You and I gave it everything we had and guess what, you beat me.”  Bryan says he put it all on the table and the only thing left to say is congratulations.  He shakes hands with Roman.

Bryan talks about their match later tonight and says if there’ is one man he wants to team with against Rollins and Orton, it’s Reigns.  “Now do me a favor and go beat the hell out of Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania.”  Bryan’s music hits and Reigns looks confused.

Bryan exits the ring, and we hear “Ladies and gentlemen…”  Paul Heyman emerges, and steps aside for Bryan to exit.  Heyman introduces himself as he’s walking to the ring.  He says he knows the fans think he’s there to cause trouble, “but actually, tonight, I’m here to say Roman Reigns, congratulations sir.”  He credits Reigns for an impressive victory “the number one contender for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.”

Heyman says he can’t say he’s surprised and his money always would be on Roman Reigns.  Only a fool would say Reigns is not the one, and only an idiot would not realize Reigns is special.  Heyman runs down a list of opponents like Sammartino, Hogan, Andre, Austin, The Rock, Triple H, John Cena “any time in the past 13 years,” saying his money would be on Reigns.

Heyman says that against 29 other men in the Royal Rumble, and last night at Fast Lane, his money was on Roman Reigns.  Heyman admits he’s the guy against any other man in history.  “You sir, are the right man, in the right place, at the wrong time.”  He says Reigns isn’t fighting a man at Wrestlemania, he’s fighting a beast.  Heyman says he has respect for Roman, but he can’t slay Heyman’s beast.

“You can’t be the one to beat the one, in 21-1.”  Heyman says any other time his money would be on Roman Reigns but at Wrestlemania his money is on his client.  At the end of Wrestlemania, there will be an announcement, and a title.  And that announcement will be “still, WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Brock Lesnar.”

Reigns invites Heyman to stand in front of him, then asks Heyman to tell him he can’t.  Reigns says he has been told that he can’t a lot, and he wants more motivation.  “I thought you were smarter than that.  Give me some more motivation.”  He recounts the night after Royal Rumble and saying that he told Lesnar that he will respect him.

Reigns says he doesn’t care if Lesnar respects him, saying he said that to “get my Samoan blood boiling.”  Reigns says he will beat Lesnar at Wrestlemania.  He says he won’t just beat him, and that respect goes out the window.  He says it’s the way he will beat him.  “Because when I’m all done with him, he ain’t gonna like me anyways.  Believe that.”  Heyman leaves, and Reigns music hits.

That was strong between all the players.  Reigns was on camera a lot, but his promo time was limited wisely.  Bryan endorsing Reigns was strong, but the look Reigns gave him was skeptical even though Bryan seemed straight forward about it.  There was nothing there that elicited a skeptical look in my mind and I don’t suspect a Bryan turn coming.  Heyman was good, but when he ran down the long list of stars Reigns would have beaten drew a lot of boos  The segment was important and came off well.  Nothing Reigns did would really change fans’ mind about him, but Daniel Bryan may have been the key to get that mindet changed.

The announcers talk about sampling WWE Network on the site as a first anniversary celebration. Booker horribly sings happy birthday.

The announcers narrate over still shots of last night’s tag team championship match.  The rematch is now!

Match #4 – Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (c, w/Natalya) vs. The Usos (w/Naomi); WWE Tag Team Championship

Early offensive control of this one goes to the Usos.  They slam Kidd into the barrier going to break.

Back live, Cesaro is controlling the Usos.  They show us app highlights from the break where Kidd and Cesaro took over.  Uso gets the knees up on an elbow drop by Kidd to create separation.  Cesaro runs across and boots Jimmy, but Jey rolls him up for two.  Cesaro hits an upper cut to the back of the head.  Cesaro and Kidd do their swing into a drop kick for a two count.

More uppercuts from Cesaro, this time off the whip.  Kidd and Cesaro work frequent tags.  Uso gets perched up top, but counters Cesaro into an electric chair.  He tags, and the other Uso hits a splash.  Kidd splashes both of them to break the cover up.

Kidd tries a leg drop at the apron but misses.  Uso rolls up Kidd for two, then hits an ensugiri.  Kidd rolls Uso up but uses the ropes for leverage.  Naomi runs over and pulls his leg off the ropes.  Natalya walks over and confronts her, shoving her down.

In the ring, Uso hits a superkick, and goes up top for the splash.  Natalya pulls him down, and the match gets thrown out.  Naomi pulls Natalya off the apron and she hits her leg hard.  Kidd tends to Natalya, who takes her boot off.  Kidd helps her out of the arena as the match result is announced.  The Usos win, but Kidd and Cesaro keep the titles.

I like seeing Natalya getting involved.  They really could have built up to her becoming a more meaningful heel by having her act innocent then go all out heel.

Cole hypes that we will hear from Cena about his plan going forward after being submitted last night, and Bray Wyatt calls out the Undertaker again, next.

Back live, they talk about Vince McMahon appearing on the cover of Muscle and Fitness, and talk about the interview piece.

Backstage, Miz chides Mizdow for packing his coat wrong and getting fuzz all over it.  He says he has won every title there is to win in WWE, and the only one he hasn’t is the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale.  He says he plans to enter this year, so he can win it.  Once he does, that will mean more fame, visibility, and movie roles for him.

Mizdow interrupts and says that since he has stepped out as Miz’s stunt double, he has gotten calls for movie roles and  landed one in a commercial.  Miz tells him it’s great, and demands he get rolling (the lint roller).

There’s the first hint, or maybe confirmation, that we’ll see the Andre the Giant Battle Royale again this year.  And I presume Miz and Mizdow will be in it.

They go back to last night and the Bray Wyatt segment where he duplicated the Undertaker’s entrance.  They recap the promo segment.  Backstage, Wyatt is with a casket.  He speaks into the casket as if someone were in there, and brings up the 21-1 moment from last year’s Mania.  He says that if existence is defined by moments then that one defined Undertaker.  “The mighty Undertaker, reduced to a pile of broken bones and broken dreams on the grandest stage of them all.”  He says in that moment Undertaker felt “his” breath at his neck and his claws pulling him down.

Wyatt says that evil exists inside of him now, and he will finish the job at Wrestlemania.  He says he knows Undertaker is afraid but there’s no reason to hide.  “It’s so much better down here.  Find me.”

Stardust makes his entrance for the next match.  The announcers touch on the match between Stardust and Goldust from last night, saying the implosion of the two brothers is complete.

Match #5 – Stardust vs. Jack Swagger

Stardust starts off aggressively, kicking and stomping away on Swagger.  Fans chant “Cody!” and that gets to him a bit.  Swagger comes back by clipping the knee, then trying a Swagger bomb, but Cody counters.  Cody tries a springboard move but Swagger catches him in the Patriot Lock.  Cody gets to the ropes to break it.

Goldust’s entrance music hits and he comes to the stage.  Swagger picks the ankle quickly and Stardust taps out.  Goldust squats down at the fans chant “Cody!” and drive him nuts.

I can only assume that this is continuation to move on to Goldust vs. Stardust at Wrestlemania.  Cole was really disengaged through this match, really.

Cole talks again about Cena vs. Rusev.  He narrates over still shots, showing Lana interfering to permit the low blow that opened Rusev’s opportunity to lock on the Accolade.  Cole says he passed out, but Cena’s loss will go down as a submission loss.  Cole asks Booker what’s next.  Booker says he’s glad the referee stopped it before Cena got hurt bad.  We’ll hear from Cena next.

In-Ring Segment:

Here comes John Cena, serenaded by fans with “John Cena Sucks” but also getting cheered.   Cena isn’t full of his normal fire and vigor as he gets the mic.   He says that Music City is a bit raucous because last night was the last stop on the road to Wrestlemania.

He talks about the title match last night as he faced Rusev.  He tips the hat to Rusev but says he had him staring at defeat.  He says he was in the Accolade, the move Rusev has used to crush everyone before him.  He recounts standing to his feet with Rusev on his back and he knew he would be the first to beat Rusev.  But then Rusev spun him around and hit him below the belt to seal the deal.

Cena says “that’s fine.  I lost, Rusev won.”  He says his problem is with Rusev.  He talks about how Rusev parades himself around like some sort of hero.  He says last night when he had a chance to prove himself a hero, Rusev proved himself a coward.

Rusev’s music hits and he comes to the stage with Lana.  “John, what is that American phrase that you say?  Oh, we told you so.”  They wait out USA chants, then Lana tells the fans to shut up.  Lana tells Cena he’s looking for words to describe what happened, but he failed.  He let down the fans, and like millions of Americans he gave up.  Cena was humbled by the superior athlete, and superior person, Rusev.

Lana talks about how Cena has been at a loss for words while Rusev has been receiving praise from the Russian Federation and Vladmir Putin.  Rusev addresses him, saying that he broke Cena.  “Now that you’ve embarrassed your friends, your family, and your stupid country, it’s my time now. It’s Rusev time.”

Rusev tells Cena that he wants him to admit that Rusev is better than him.  “I want you to admit that Rusev is better than Cena and America.”  Cena says that Rusev can say what he wants about him, but he better “watch your ass when you run down the United States when I’m around.”

Lana mocks Cena, saying he gave up and his life is a lie.  She feeds it  to still shots that show Cena laying face down after the match last night.  Cena says that his life is a lie when he fails to get back up.  Cena says he will keep getting back up and fight to get the job done.  That’s what Americans do.  He says Rusev makes him sick, and if the Russian Federation and Vladmir Putin are really calling him, they should be embarrassed.

Cena recounts history, saying Americans raised a flag 70 years ago on Iwo Jima, and they are real heroes.  Cena gets fired up and says he will humble Rusev and bring back the US Championship at Wrestlemania.

“Rematch at Wrestlemania?  What makes you think you deserve a rematch?”  Rusev says some stuff in Russian and gets the What treatment.  Rusev tells Cena he calls himself the great John Cena, but he is now the great quitter John Cena.  He repeats his assertion that Cena doesn’t deserve a rematch, and says his answer is no.  Cena looks disgusted.  The Russian flag falls and Rusev’s music plays to end the segment.

Heel is logical, Cena can’t even be bothered to call out the obvious nut shot.  They should have had Rusev pin him clean with no heel tendencies.  Cena should be outraged, he should call Rusev out for it, and I spent time screaming at my TV to get him to do it.  I will admit he called the patriotism card more, and I assume that will keep being a strong theme as we head to Mania.

Backstage, Randy Orton is in his locker room when Seth Rollins walks in with J&J Security.  Rollins asks if he has a minute and Orton says if he’s there to talk strategy he can leave the pets (J&J) at the door.  They get a little irritated, but Rollins tells them to go ahead and he has this.

Rollins says he knows Orton hates him.  Orton cuts him off and says hate is a strong word, and he says they could say they’re on the same page from a business sense.  Orton tells him he won’t forget what happened, but the only thing on his mind is showing Bryan and Reigns why they were lucky he wasn’t one of the men in the Royal Rumble.

Rollins says they can show them what the face and the future is all about.  They shake hands, and Orton says “by any means necessary.”  Rollins walks away satisfied, while Orton shoots a look with a smirk.

The announce team hypes up that we’re going to get some video history of Sting, up later tonight.

Paige makes her entrance.  She is up next in tag team action.

They run a video package highlighting Sting’s career, covering his surfer Sting days until the NWO until he appeared in WWE.

Match #6 – Paige and Emma vs. The Bella Twins:

Women got in the ring.  Cole referenced last night’s Divas Championship match.  Paige yelled at Nikki that she’s a cheater.  Emma took a facebuster from Brie to lose the match.  Paige attacked Brie, and Nikki attacked her in return and told her to not touch her sister.

WWE doesn’t care.  Neither do I.

Back live, Cole recounts the current inductees for the Hall of Fame.  He says on Ring-Rap.com….errr…Stuff.com, the newest inductees have been announced.  He feeds it to a video package highlighting the Bushwhackers, the newest inductees.  Cole extends congratulations back live.

Curtis Axel is in the ring pointing at the Wrestlemania sign.  He tells us to not turn the channel.  He says he still hasn’t been eliminated from the Royal Rumble.  29 days plus.  He says Axelmania is alive and well.  He says he is entering the second annual Andre the Giant Battle Royale and he will be the last man standing.  “You can’t stop Axelmania.”  Ryback’s music hits.

Match #7 – Curtis Axel vs. Ryback

Ryback cuts a promo and tells Axel to turn his upper lip south and shut his mouth.  He tells Axel he was a great tag partner and Rybaxel was one of the greatest teams of all time.  He says Axel got one thing right and the man left standing at the Andre the Giant Battle Royal will be him.  He puts over Nashville, saying “since we’re here in the Music City, why doesn’t the big guy take you to Smashville.”

Axel gets some early offense, but Ryback hits him with the Meathook.  Shellshocked strikes, and it’s a win for Ryback.  Ryback yells at the hard camera a bit.

I have to admit, Axel looked comfortable there.  He hasn’t to date, and we all know that.  It wasn’t the biggest deal in the world, but at least he seemed to find himself a bit.

Cole hypes the main event, up next.

Back live, Cole hypes up a six man tag on Smackdown, featuring Kane, Big Show, and Seth Rollins vs. Dolph Ziggler, Ryback, and Erick Rowan.

Match #8  – Seth Rollins and Randy Orton (w/Big Show, Kane, and J&J Security) vs. Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns:

During Rollins’ entrance, they run the Jon Stewart TMZ footage again.  Rollins gives Orton a rousing introduction, and the live crowd didn’t seem to know how to react.  Orton poses on the ropes and that draws a cheer.  As Reigns makes his entrance, they recap his words to Paul Heyman.  Bryan is last to come out, and he leads “Yes!” chants.  The match starts after the break.

Back live,  the match gets underway.  Bryan sends Rollins to the floor with a backdrop.  Bryan sets up a suicide dive, but Orton pulls Rollins out of the way before he can deliver.  Another commercial break.  They show us what we missed during the break when we come back live.  The heels got the  better of Reigns.  He started a rally but took a clothesline from Orton.

Rollins tags in, and Reigns gets a tag to Bryan.  He drop kicks Orton off the apron, lands a series of kicks on Rollins.  He winds up for the last one, but Rollins ducks it to roll Bryan up.  Bryan counters the roll-up into the Yes Lock.  That gets broken by Orton.

Bryan goes up top.  He sees J&J Security and that lets Rollins crotch him.  Rollins turns  it into a two count, then tags in Orton.  Orton continues the offense in the corner as the announcers debate Bryan’s Wrestlemania partner.   Orton whips him hard across the ring then puts him up on the top rope.

Orton sets up a superplex, but Bryan fights back.  He knocks Orton down with headbutts then tries to deliver the flying headbutt but Orton moves.  Both men get the hot tags.   Reigns tees off on Rollins with a big clothesline, then a series of corner clotheslines, following up with a modified Samoan drop.

Reigns calls for the Superman punch, hitting it on Mercury.  Rollins counters Reigns and tags in Orton.  The two of them exchange strikes mid ring, then Orton hits a scoop slam.  Orton sets up the elevated DDT, but Rollins blind tags.  Orton still hits the DDT, but gets out of the ring and starts cussing.  Big Show and Kane try to calm him down.

Rollins tries the Curb Stomp, but Reigns avoids.  He hits the Superman punch on Rollins.  Bryan blind tags in, and Reigns smiles.  Bryan hits the running knee and pins Rollins for the win.  Bryan celebrates and exits.

Orton gets in the ring and stares down Rollins.  He heads to the opposite corner where Rollins is, but Noble gets in his way.  RKO to Noble and chases Mercury to the corner.  Orton confronts Rollins and picks him up.  He taps Rollins on the arm and leaves.  Show and Kane get in the ring and talk to a confused Rollins.  The rest of the Authority regroup in the ring.

Cole offers some sell for the WWE Network special marathon that is available via WWE.com and the WWE App going on now.  That’s the show.

This match was fine overall.  The announcers said that Reigns “didn’t whine about it” when Bryan tagged himself in, which was actually kind of a highlight.  I like the draw-out to Orton actually attacking Rollins.  My guard was up throughout this match that he would strike at any time, but he didn’t.  It makes sense – they have their story, and it will end up being more meaningful when they do pull the trigger on it.

Overall, though, this Raw was kinda blah.  If this is how you’re kicking off the final five weeks to Mania, then man I feel like Mania is in trouble.  It’s not like this show was terrible – it wasn’t – but it just felt inconsequential.  Nothing really got set up or advanced in a way that really points to a clear direction, and that bothers me.  There were some good things throughout the night, but not enough to give me confidence in the Mania direction right now.

Drew and I will be by tomorrow with Ring Rap Audio to talk all things Raw, Fast Lane, TNA, ROH, and whatever else crosses our minds.  Be sure to ask your questions regarding things pro wrestling for our discussion as well.  Thanks for reading along tonight.

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WWE Monday Night Raw Live Coverage for 2/16/2015 – Go Home Show for Fast Lane, Follow Up on Big Show Knocking out Kane on Smackdown, Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns on the Same Page, Dusty Rhodes Addresses His Sons, and More

It’s the go-home show tonight as WWE heads toward the Fast Lane pay per view this coming Sunday.  Is there trouble among the Authority now, as Big Show knocked Kane out on Smackdown this past Thursday?  One has to wonder what Triple H and Stephanie will do about that tonight.  Daniel Bryan and Roman Reigns were on the same page Thursday, but they will face off on Sunday for the right to face Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania.  Who will get an advantage – and will Seth Rollins stick his nose in their situation?  Also, Dusty Rhodes plans to make an appearance to address the issues between his sons, Goldust and Stardust.  Will “Dream” be able to get his boys back together?

Show Open, Live from the Amway Center in Orlando, FL

Opening credits roll and we get pyro to open the show.  Cole welcomes us in to a sold out show at the Amway Center.  John Cena’s music hits, and he gets  his standard mixed reaction.  Booker says it’s a great way to kick off the show. Cena charges the ring as Cole hypes up the show, focusing on Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan and their respective matches with Kane and Big Show.  They touch on Cena’s match with Rusev for Fast Lane.

Cena says we’re less than a week from Fast Lane, live on WWE Network.  He says the crowd in Memphis will be rocking, but when he looks around tonight he’s amazed.  He says there are fans as far as the eye can see and one doesn’t have to be a rocket scientist to know Orlando is Raw.  He feeds it to a recap of what happened between him and Rusev last Monday on Raw.  Cole mentions the eye injury to Cena after the assault.

Back live, Cena calls it a familiar sight with Rusev crushing an opponent.  He says it was him this time, but he’s here tonight to say no more.  He says Rusev is a super athlete and undefeated, saying people think he can’t be stopped.  He calls it a load of garbage, introduces himself and he says he will defeat Rusev on Sunday.

He says he’ll save Rusev the strategy and tell him how he will do it.  He says the way to beat Rusev is to take the fight to him and he will do that. He says he’s been running down the ramp for 12 years and he loves it.  He loves when the fans boo (they do) and when they cheer (they do).  He says that Raw is about fun but fun won’t cut it on Sunday.

He talks about how the people ask when he will change. He says he always believed in his heart that he could win his way and with a smile on his face.  He recounts Rusev saying he’s lost a step and isn’t who he used to be.  “You want aggression, you got it, pal.”  He says there will be no smiles or high fives, and he will make history by being the first one to beat Rusev.

He says this Sunday he will fight for respect, but more importantly this Sunday he will fight to win the United States Championship.  Cue the big Russian’s entrance music, along with Lana.  They stop at the stage, and Lana has a mic.  She calls it “typical John Cena” and says he spills the same tired rhetoric.

She says that Cena’s problem isn’t that he’s a stupid American.  She waits for a “USA” chant to stop, then says Cena lives in a delusional world where the cup is always half full.  She puts over Rusev, saying he is the undefeated super athlete and the greatest United States Champion.  She mocks Cena for never giving up, and says that Cena has always come back after a beating, but this time there’s no coming back.

Rusev addresses the “USA” chants, saying he doesn’t need them.  He tells Cena that come Sunday, he will crush Cena and every thing he stands for.  Cena gets serious, telling Rusev he’s never been in a fight before.  He tells Rusev that if he makes one more move, he’ll kick his ass right now.  Lana and Rusev mock his “you can’t see me”  hand wave.

Cena bolts out of the ring, and this brawl is on.  He tackles Rusev on the ramp twice, then hits a big clothesline.  He rams Rusev head first into the LED board, then Cena unloads right hands.  The fans chant along to the count of ten.  “He’s out.” Says Booker T.  Cena yells at Rusev, points at Lana to stand back, and holds up the US title to the fans.

This was a good promo, but it feels like a repeat.  Also, go back to where Cena dismissed the US Championship – how can you take seriously that he’s going to go after the title?  With the beatdown, I can only assume that Rusev somehow retains his belt, with or without a loss.  I guess the real pitch for this match is whether or not Cena will hang the first loss on Rusev.

Back live, the announcers recap Cena beating down Rusev.

They talk about the 40th anniversary of Saturday Night Live.  They cut backstage to Dean Ambrose, who is at a desk and in a suit.  He does a mock news report, talking about how Barrett has been ducking Ambrose for an Intercontinental Championship match.  He says that he beat former champions and will beat Luke Harper tonight.  He holds up a contract and says he will get Barrett to sign.

Match #1 – Luke Harper vs. Dean Ambrose:

Harper is waiting in the ring as Dean Ambrose gets his entrance.  He has the contract with him, and leaves it with the announcers as he gets in the ring for the match.  Going into commercial, Harper hits a big boot on Ambrose at ringside.

Back live, Harper is controlling the action.   They show us action that happened through the break via the WWE App.   The announcers debate why Ambrose brought out the contract and JBL says Barrett won’t sign.  Ambrose bites his way out of a headlock, then pulls the rope down so Harper spills to ringside.

Harper gets back in the ring right away and Ambrose hits him with a tornado DDT off the ropes.  Ambrose unloads with strikes, then hits Harper with a running drop kick.  He follows with a top rope elbow on a standing Harper.  Ambrose goes back up and tries a move but Harper ducks.

Harper comes back with a superkick for a good near fall.  Ambrose comes back with strikes but takes a back elbow.  Harper hits his black hole slam for a good near fall.   Harper tries his wind-up clothesline, but Ambrose ducks and rolls Harper up for two.

Ambrose comes back with his clothesline out of the ropes, then hits Dirty Deeds for the victory.  Cole hypes up the contract and says he’d love to see the match.  JBL puts over the match as Ambrose retrieves the contract from ringside.

The skit prior to the match did nothing for me.  The match, though, was very entertaining – especially down the stretch.  The fans bought into the near falls down the stretch and rallied behind Ambrose when things counted.  And I’m hoping that they have something in mind for Luke Harper.  He’s a really effective big man, and could really fit in a role that Kane and Big Show are in right now and not being effective.

The announcers talk about the implosion of Goldust and Stardust.  Cole says that Dusty Rhodes will be present tonight and reads a tweet where Rhodes says that he will settle the issues.  JBL says that Triple H will respond to Sting tonight.  They also hype up the matches featuring Roman Reigns vs. Kane and Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show.

These all feel like repeats.  I’m not sure how this will work out.

Backstage, Triple H is talking to Kane.  Big Show enters.  Kane asks why Show is there, and the two start bickering over their various disagreements recently. Hunter interrupts and says this has been going on since Royal Rumble.  They bicker some more.  Hunter tells them to shut up, and says they reflect poorly on the Authority.  Hunter tells them to make things right in their single matches.  He says he wants solutions, not excuses.

Bray Wyatt cut in.  He says what happened “to you” was a tragedy that still stirs a rage that makes him want to do terrible things.  He says now the fear he had has turned into putrid, hateful pity.  “It’s coming.”

In the locker room, Goldust is with Stardust.  He tells him “it’s a place you don’t want to go.”  They pan back to show Dusty in the room with him.  He says that’s why he’s there is to fix what’s broken.  Stardust blows some dust around and Dusty says that’s what he’s talking about.

He calls Stardust “Cody” and says that all of the stars and galaxies mean nothing without family.  He appeals to Stardust that they need to get it together.  He tells Stardust he loves them, no matter what.  Goldust offers a handshake, and Stardust takes it.  They hug, and Dusty tells them to “show them what the Rhodes family is about, stand together.”

Dusty has lost a ton of weight.  Looks good.  The softer voice is what that situation needed.

Match #2 – Goldust and Stardust vs. The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, w/Big E)

We didn’t need to suffer through the New Day entrance, as they are in the ring.  Goldust and Stardust make their entrance and they show Dusty watching on a backstage monitor.

Xavier starts with Stardust, and gets shoulder blocked down.  He locks on a hammerlock, but Stardust backs to the corner and gets the tag from Goldust.   The Dust brothers isolate Woods and work him over.

Afterward, Stardust gets in the ring and tends to Goldust.  He helps him up, but Goldust falls back down.  He helps him up again.  They hug, then Goldust goes to walk away.  Stardust hits Cross Rhodes on him and leaves the ring.  “Dammit Cod…Stard….come on,” says Booker.  Stardust backs up the ramp.

Backstage, Byron Saxton interrupts Roman Reigns in the locker room.  He asks what the journey has been like since Royal Rumble.  Reigns says he took on 29 men at the Royal Rumble, and now he has to get through the Yes Movement, then it’s on to face Brock Lesnar.  He says when you’re that busy, you don’t have time to think about the destination.

Reigns insists he wasn’t manipulated, and says that The Authority tried to ride the wave of public opinion to get Seth Rollins into the situation.  Saxton asks about Bryan, saying he rode the same wave of public opinion.  Reigns looks up and says Bryan had an opportunity and took it.  He says he respects Bryan, but if he were in the Royal Rumble and got tossed out he would take it like a man.  He says that he was the man who gave Bryan the opportunity, and he will take it away.

This should have happened when they set this match for Fast Lane.  They’ve made Reigns look like a dope by insinuating he has been manipulated by the Authority into this situation.  His character raised the right ppoint about Bryan, something we’ve talked about.  They waited too long.  Now, will Bryan respond – or be left to twist in the wind.

Cue Daniel Bryan’s music out in the arena.  He comes to the ring, leading “yes” chants and shaking hands with fans.  Cole says that Reigns will face Kane next, and asks why Bryan is out there.  He will be on commentary for the next match.

On the app, we see Stardust confronted by Dusty Rhodes, who calls him Cody.  Stardust takes offense and says that Cody has been doomed to live in the shadow of his polka-dotted father.  He says that space is a balance of forces, and forces causing him to explode.  He says that Cody dances with the stars now.  “Cody Rhodes is dead, and as far as I’m concerned so is my father.”

This was actually pretty strong for Cody’s perspective.  He wasn’t over the top, and hopefully this is something he can dig into.

Back live, we get a recap of the recent tensions between Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan.  Booker says that the two guys have respect for each other.

Match #3 – Roman Reigns vs. Kane

Bryan addresses Reigns’ backstage comments.  He says that his logic for getting into the main event of Fast Lane is that he never got a chance at the title after his injury.  “I had one less title defense than Brock Lesnar, so they didn’t need to strip it from me.”  ZING!

Reigns sells for Kane, who hits a big boot to a seated Reigns.  At the announce position, they continue to discuss Bryan and Reigns facing off on Sunday.  Kane gets a two count.  Reigns starts a comeback,. hitting a clothesline off the second rope and a running clothesline in the corner.  He hits a Samoan Drop.  Bryan leads a “yes” chant, and says that’s what Reigns will be dealing with on Sunday.

Late, the fight spills outside.  Kane sets up a choke slam onto the announce position, but Reigns escapes.  Reigns sets up and hits a spear, then beats the ten count back into the ring.  Reigns wins by count out.

Afterward, Bryan says there is no way he will get counted out on Sunday.    Bryan gets on the announce position and leads “yes” chants.  Reigns opens the ropes and invites him in, but instead Bryan circles the ring leading “yes” chants.  JBL says that Bryan is getting in Reigns’ head.  Cole hypes up Big Show vs. Bryan for later on.  Reigns smiles and laughs at the ropes.

So, Reigns doesn’t pin Kane, but wins.  They protected Kane?  They protected MOTHER FUCKING KANE?!?  Reigns, as the Rumble winner, should have scored a pinfall win here.  The fans didn’t know how to respond to Bryan’s “yes” lap either.  Vince has this really screwed up right now.  Both men are going to come out of this damaged by what I see at the moment.

Also, can we pull back on the “Yes” chants led by Bryan?  He looks like a glorified cheerleader, when he needs to be a determined athlete.

They also hype that Triple H will address Sting accepting his offer to appear at Fast Lane on Sunday.

Backstage,  Renee Young catches up with Daniel Bryan.  She asks him about the chants, and Bryan credits Reigns for being a great athlete.  He says one has to be mentally tough to be a champion.  He says if Reigns had issues with the chants tonight, he will need to get used to them because there will be more at Fast Lane on Sunday.

Another Wyatt cut in.  He holds a hammer, saying “Limbo is no place for a soul like yours.  I’m waiting.”

Looks like he’s still out to address Undertaker?

Byron Saxton looks for an interview with Paige.  The Bella Twins emerge with her ring gear.  Nikki says that she won’t be wrestling tonight, and if she does she will have to do it – naked.  Paige comes out with a towel wrapped around herself, asking where her gear is.  She heads off but meets up with Cameron.  Paige asks to borrow gear, but Cameron tells her “girl bye.”  Ugh.  Paige sees the Rosebuds, and pulls one of them in her locker room.

The marked difference between the NXT women and the WWE Divas is that Divas are presented like school girls with 5th grade problems and pranks, while the NXT women are presented as athletes who work matches.

Match #4 – Paige vs. Summer Rae

Paige comes out with the Rosebud’s fairy outfit on, or whatever it is.  The fans didn’t care, but the announcers made a big deal out of it.  The Bellas watch from a monitor and snicker.  Summer gets in some offense, but Paige locks in the PTO to get a submission win.

Afterward, the Bellas walk out.  Brie has Paige’s leather jacket on.  Nikki starts to talk, but Paige cuts her off.  She says that the difference between her and Nikki is that she doesn’t need an outfit to make her look good.  She says that after Fast Lane, she will be wearing something better – the WWE Divas Championship.

I can’t even muster up any anger.  This is garbage nonsense.

Backstage, Seth Rollins is talking to J&J security.  He’ll be up next.

Seth Rollins gets his entrance.   Before this match he cuts a promo.  He says that today is President’s Day, saying it’s a day to honor men of the past.  He calls it a waste of time when the future is standing before them.  He says that he is the most valuable asset in WWE.

“I can do whatever I want, whenever I want, and no one can stop me,” Rollins says.   He says he can run for president, or take over as the host of the Daily Show for Jon Stewart “and make that thing watchable.”  Rollins says all he wants to do is cash in his MITB briefcase and become the next WWE World Heavyweight Champion.  He says that instead he has to waste his time with people below him like Ryback, Erick Rowan and Dolph Ziggler.

Ziggler’s music hits and he gets cheered.  Ziggler comes out and asks Rollins why he’s mad.  He asks if he had a rough Valentine’s Day.  OUCH.  He asks if J&J got him the wrong chocolates or if Stephanie buckled into the car seat too tight, or if Triple H gave him a speech about the birds and bees.

Rollins smirks, then tells Ziggler he’s nothing compared to him.  Ziggler agrees, saying “especially when it comes to being a whiny protected sellout douche.”  Ziggler says that he raises the bar when he’s in the ring, and he got rid of the Authority singlehandedly.  He tells the “trolls” J&J Security to stand back, because he’s about to do what he does best – show off.

Match #5 – Dolph Ziggler vs. Seth Rollins (w/J&J Security);

Ziggler attacks, clubbing away on Rollins before he can get his shirt off.  Rollins escapes to the outside to regroup as we go to break.  The match hasn’t started yet.

Back live, Rollins is controlling the action.  He got the advantage in the break with the help of his security guys.  Rollins throws Ziggler out, and the security guys run to the ramp side where Ziggler is.  The official catches them, and ejects them.  Rollins throws Ziggler to the barrier then motions to security that he has it.

Back in the ring, Ziggler rolls up Rollins in a small package, but only gets two.  He takes a clothesline from Rollins.  Ziggler mounts a comeback, hitting a corner splash.

Late in the match, Ziggler hits a superkick and the Zig Zag.  He has Rollins pinned, but J&J Security comes back to the ring to throw the match out.  The three gang up on Ziggler but here comes Ryback and Erick Rowan to even the odds.  They rough up Noble, with Ryback hitting a spinebuster on him before he rolls away.  The faces stand tall and celebrate.

Good while it lasted.  I am just thrilled that they announced the DQ finish.  They never do that.

Backstage, Triple H is watching it on a monitor.  He will be addressing the Sting situation, next.

We get an ad for the Fast Lane pre-show, which will happen on Sunday at 7 EST.

In-Ring Segment:

The familiar “King of Kings” hits and here comes Triple H.  As he comes to the ring, we get a recap of what went down last Monday involving Sting and Hunter.

“We Want Sting” chants welcome us back live.  Hunter smirks, then says “let me get this straight – word on the street is that I’m afraid of Sting?  I find that laughable.”  He says it takes more than a couple parlor tricks to get under his skin.  He says WCW will stand in the ring with WWE at Fast Lane. “Sting, the Icon, the Franchise, will stand in this ring and do the unthinkable, stand face to face, toe to toe, with The Game.  Not the COO…”

“WOOOOOOOO!”  Ric Flair’s music interrupts, and here comes Naitch to the ring.  The two hug and Flair goes for a mic.  “Before you start cussing me out…”  He says he came out because he respects and loves Triple H.  He says Hunter can’t get mad because they’re in Orlando and that’s where Hunter inducted Flair to the Hall of Fame.  He says he has nothing else to say but that he loves and respects Hunter.

Hunter says “why you’re here, and why I assume you’re here, is to sing the praises of Sting.”  Hunter says he knows how good he is.  Flair tells Hunter to not take Sting lightly, and to not put himself in a position to fail.  Hunter says he doesn’t need a history lesson on who Sting is.  He says he knows how good Sting is.

He says he watched a bleach blonde kid take Flair 60 minutes at Clash of Champions, then become the franchise and icon of WCW.  “Sting was, and is, WCW.”  When WCW’s final bell rang, Sting was standing tall in the ring while all the other rats jumped ship.  Sting stayed and Hunter respects that, but then Sting did the smart thing and disappeared.  “If Sting would have come to WWE, I would have run him out.  Sting’s legacy was built on Ric Flair’s reputation, and that always pissed me off.”

Flair tells him he’s not acting like the Cerebral Assassin.  Hunter asks to finish.  He says that after all these years Sting wants to make it personal and take what he has.  “Sting is, and Was, WCW, and mark my words, I am WWE.”

Flair says that Sting is already getting to him.  He says he’s asked in airports who the best is, and he says “Triple H, when he’s wrestling.”  He says he was asked in New Orleans about Triple H beating Daniel Bryan – and Flair answered that Hunter would beat Bryan in five minutes.  “Thirty minutes later, guess what happened.”  He tells Hunter that he’s not a full-time wrestler anymore, and the worst thing for a wrestler is time off.

Hunter tells Flair that Flair is no Triple H when it comes to kicking Sting’s ass.  Flair asks Hunter to do him the favor and not let him see Hunter sitting on his ass like he was last Monday.  Hunter shoves Flair down.   He gets in Flair’s face and says that nothing outside of his wife and kids is more important to him than WWE.  He says he doesn’t care who stands between him and the WWE, he will kick their ass.

Hunter says that whether he goes on his own, or he has to beat it out of him, “Sting will never show his face here again.”  Hunter storms off, then Flair’s music hits and he leaves the ring.

The announcers talk quietly.  JBL says that this is WWE.  Booker says that Triple H just lost his cool in front of 15,000 people.  They swing into promoting John Cena appearing on “Parks and Recreation,” then recap the opening segment when John Cena beat down Rusev.  They hype up John Cena vs. Rusev for the pay per view on Sunday.

They just couldn’t run to commercial there.  They needed to let that breathe, but instead ran off to a Cena appearance.  It’s a big deal, but the placement was all wrong.  This exchange was really good and showed great intensity.  This was the best hype of anything on Fast Lane, and gives some spice to what may be a blah moment at the pay per view.

Match #6 – Darren Young and a local talent vs. The Ascension

Darren Young gets an intro, but his partner doesn’t.  The Ascension interrupts the intros and hits the ring aggressively, attacking both men.  Out of nowhere, Titus O’Neil runs out to help Darren Young, helping clear the Ascension from the ring.  He and Young pose after the match.

Are we getting a reunion of the Prime Time Players?  Can’t say I’m overjoyed to see it, but the tag team division could use it.

Backstage, The Miz talks to Bad News Barrett.  Miz asks him to knock Mizdow down a peg or two, and he will help Barrett in keeping Ambrose at bay for signing the contract.  Barrett tells him to “have your people call my people.”

They run an ad for the preview of the “Destruction of the Shield” DVD on the Network after Raw.  Cole says that Paul Heyman will appear on Miz TV on the Fast Lane pre-show.

Match #7 – Bad News Barrett vs. Damien Mizdow (w/The Miz)

Barrett gets in some early offense.  Mizdow starts a run, but Miz rings a bell and yells “the bell means stop.”  He asks Mizdow to come buff his shoe.  That lets Barrett get back in control.  Mizdow starts another flurry.  He kips up and sets up for the Skull Crushing Finale, but Miz rings the bell again.  He complains about a spot on his glasses he wants cleaned.  Mizdow gets by the ropes and Miz says “never mind.”  Mizdow turns around into the Bull Hammer and Barrett wins.

After the match, Dean Ambrose charges the ring.  He attacks Barrett from behind, then runs him into the ring post.  Ambrose ties him up with ties and shows the clipboard with the contract.  He goes over to the announcers and gets a pen while Barrett yells for a knife.  Ambrose forces his signature, then smiles and holds it up, pointing to both signatures.  Cole hypes that the match will happen at Fast Lane for the Intercontinental Championship.

I think that was a bit of an awkward way to get to the title match for Barrett and Ambrose.  Not a big fan of it.  Both guys deserve better than that.

Bray Wyatt cut in again.  He is pounding on something with a hammer.  He says it’s time for the angel with the burnt wings comes, and dares the person to find him. “Or I’ll find you.”

We get a vignette for Sheamus’ return, coming soon.

Match #8 – Jimmy Uso and Naomi (w/Jey Uso) vs. Tyson Kidd and Natalya (w/Cesaro)

We get a video recap of the double date that caused these issues as the Usos come to the ring.  Cole tells us that The Usos will defend the tag titles at Fast Lane against Kidd and Cesaro.  Kidd and Natalya, along with Cesaro, come out, and Cole reads tweets from both women involved in the match.

Men start it off, but Kidd quickly tags out so Naomi has to tag in as well.  Natalya uses a leg scissor to control Naomi momentarily, then Naomi returns the favor.  Stand-off as Kidd leads a chant for his wife.  Naomi tags out, so that means Kidd has to tag in.  Kidd lands a kick and a slap to the face then tags out.

Natalya and Naomi back in.  After working some offense and hitting mirroring drop kicks, Natalya asks Kidd if he wants the tag.  He refuses, saying she has it.  Natty steps through for the Sharpshooter, but Naomi counters.  The two women work roll-up exchanges, and Naomi comes out on top of it.  The Usos and Naomi escape, and Kidd derides his wife for losing the match.

At least the women weren’t treated like 4th graders?  The tag match at the pay per view should be good though.

The announcers give us some hype for WWE Network and Fast Lane coming up on Sunday.  Cole sends it into a recap of the Roman Reigns/Kane match and Daniel Bryan’s involvement.

They show Bryan walking toward the ring, and he’s up next against Big Show.  Roman Reigns’ music hits, and he heads to the ring through the crowd.  He’ll be on commentary for our main event.

Back live, Dolph Ziggler will get Seth Rollins again on Smackdown.  J&J Security is barred from ringside for that one though.

Match #9 – Daniel Bryan vs. Big Show

JBL says that “this little puke” will get what he has coming and it won’t be a match at Wrestlemania.  Booker reminds us that Bryan has pinned Show before.

Bryan avoids Show early, then unloads some kicks.  Show palms him down.  Show catches Bryan and tries to club him in the corner, but Bryan avoids and lands some more kicks.  Show slaps him on the back and takes control momentarily.  Bryan comes back with some kicks, targeting the leg.  Show’s size takes over.  Orlando is quiet as Show hits a slam.  Reigns watches on, shaking his head.

Bryan unloads some shots on Show in the corner.  Show reverses it, slapping Bryan across the chest and taking control again, setting up a press slam. Bryan counters to a sleeper.  Reigns starts signing autographs and taking selfies for fans and that catches Bryan’s attention.  Show has faded to his knees with the sleeper.

Show breaks the sleeper, but Bryan unloads kicks on Show.  He’s still sort of distracted by Reigns and the selfies.  Show palms down Bryan as we go to break.

Wow.  The best they have is the selfie game?  Really?  This is so uninspired and sloppy.

Show is in control as we come back live.  They talk about Reigns taking pictures and signing autographs before the break.  Show slaps Bryan at the apron as JBL says that he doesn’t think anyone can beat Brock Lesnar.  Show gets booed as he continues to move along with plodding offense.

A “You sold out” chant gets Show’s attention for a moment.   Bryan starts to fire up with some kicks, but Show catches him in a bear hug.    Bryan sets up a counter, trying to flip Show from the ring.  Roman Reigns is tossing out t-shirts to the fans, which gets Bryan’s attention.

Bryan tries a suicide dive but Show catches him.  He tries to set something up, but Bryan runs him into the post.  Show runs Bryan into Reigns, and they have words.  Show hits Reigns with a spear, then turns his attention to Bryan again.

Bryan manages to take Show down, and he starts a run.  He hits two running drop kicks, but Show counters and goozles him.  Bryan slips out and locks on the Yes Lock, but Show strains to the ropes and gets there.  Bryan unloads more kicks on a kneeling Show, hitting the big wind-up for a two count.

Bryan goes up top, but Roman Reigns hits the ring to drop Show with a Superman Punch.  That ends the match, and Lilian actually calls it.  Bryan is still on the ropes and he’s pissed.  He hits Reigns with a missile drop kick and sends him out of the ring.  Bryan and Reigns jaw at each other, then Reigns hits the ring.  The brawl is on, and Reigns tosses Bryan to ringside.

Reigns walks around the ring as Bryan gets to his feet.  The brawl starts again, with Reigns getting the better of it as it spills outside the ring.   Officials spill out to break things up, but not before Reigns tosses Bryan into the barrier.  The fans chant “let them fight”  but Booker tells the two to “be smart, Fast Lane, Wrestlemania.” The two shake hands.

That doesn’t last long.  Bryan attacks Reigns, sending him over the top rope and following with a suicide dive.  The brawl continues out through the fans, with officials trying to break things up.  They move to the timekeeper area, where Bryan roughs him up with a chair.

Reigns gets in a big shot, and throws Bryan over the announce position.  Referees catch up to them and separate the two men again.  JBL says it comes down to these two and we’ll find out who goes to Wrestlemania to face Brock Lesnar on Sunday.  That’s how it ends.

The brawl started off awkwardly, like a cat fight.  But once they got beyond that, it wasn’t bad.  The problem is, it feels like too little, too late.  The rest of the build has been pretty bad for this, as has been a lot of the pay per view.  This gives me hope though that something will be meaningful when it comes time for the match on Sunday.

This was a marathon, yet again.  Nothing really got me all that hyped up for Fast Lane at all.  Even the closing brawl didn’t undo all the issues that the build to Bryan vs. Reigns has.  I guess it’s a matter of your perspective as to what it did for you – but for me, this didn’t get me excited about the pay per view on Sunday.

Drew and I will talk all things Fast Lane and Raw, along with our predictions, on tomorrow’s Ring Rap Audio.  It’s a big day for us, as it’s Episode 150!  We’d love to have your questions and comments as a part of this show, so hit us up on Twitter @RingRap or drop a comment on our Facebook page.  And don’t forget to vote in our Reader Poll too.  Thanks for reading along tonight.

WWE Issues Formal Press Release Confirming the 2015 Hall of Fame Induction of “Macho Man” Randy Savage

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WWE has issued a formal press release today confirming that Randy “Macho Man” Savage is the first inductee of the 2015 Hall of Fame.  The ceremony will take place the weekend of Wrestlemania 31, which is March 28.

RANDY “MACHO MAN” SAVAGE™ TO BE INDUCTED INTO THE WWE® HALL OF FAME

STAMFORD, Conn., January 12, 2015 – WWE (NYSE:WWE) announced today that Randy “Macho Man” Savage will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Hulk Hogan™. The posthumous ceremony will take place Saturday, March 28 at SAP Center, as a part of the WrestleMania® 31 Week activities.

“Randy Savage was one of the most iconic Superstars in WWE history,” said WWE Chairman & CEO Vince McMahon. “While millions of fans around the world mourned his passing, they will now be able to celebrate his rightful induction into the WWE Hall of Fame.”

One of the greatest stars in WWE history and a pop-culture icon known for his incredible athleticism, trademark “Ooh, Yeah” catchphrase and elaborate ring attire, Randy “Macho Man” Savage made his WWE debut in 1985. In 1986, he became Intercontinental Champion, holding the title for more than a year until losing it to Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat™ at WrestleMania III in one of the greatest matches in WWE history. At WrestleMania IV, Savage once again made history by becoming WWE Champion in a tournament where he competed in an unprecedented four matches.

At WrestleMania V, Savage lost the WWE Championship to Hulk Hogan, but soon went on to memorable feuds with WWE Hall of Famers Dusty Rhodes™, Ultimate Warrior™ and Jake “The Snake” Roberts™. Savage again made history in 1992 by defeating WWE Hall of Famer Ric Flair at WrestleMania VIII to become WWE Champion for a second time. After losing the Championship back to Flair, Savage continued to perform in WWE both in the ring and the broadcast booth until his departure from WWE in 1994. While competing in WCW®, Savage continued to add to his legacy, becoming a multi-time WCW World Heavyweight Champion.

Additional WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015 inductees will be announced over the coming weeks.

Tickets for the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony at SAP Center go on sale this Saturday, January 17 at 1 PM ET/10 AM PT through http://www.ticketmaster.com or by calling 1-800-745-3000. All tickets are subject to service charges and facility fees.

WrestleMania 31 takes place at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, CA Sunday, March 29 live on WWE Network and pay-per-view.